Showing posts with label Fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun. Show all posts

Saturday, January 16, 2016

DIY Writing Planner (For Under $10!)

Every year, my writers' group does a gift exchange at the holidays. This year (because, life) we ended up having a New Year celebration, rather than a Christmas one, so we decided our gifts should be something to encourage one another to write throughout the coming year. I put together a simple, inexpensive writing planner and loved it so much I decided to make one for myself! 

When I'm working on a story, I like to have a notebook handy so I can jot down notes and inspiration that come to me during the day when I don't have time to pull out my computer. If you're a wee bit OCD like me and secretly annoyed by having a notebook filled with out-of-sequence notes, this binder gives you the bonus of being able to add and/or rearrange pages as needed. 

All the materials can currently be found (for under $10 total!) in what my kids call the "Dollar Section" at Target. (You know, that section near the entrance where everything is cheap and adorable, AKA, the most dangerous aisle in the store.)


Materials:
1 Mini Binder
1 Filler Paper/Pocket Divider Combo
1 Pack Pencils

Plus:
(I like to use a sturdy card stock for these.) 

Print the project and word count sheets
(pro tip: draw a cut line 1/4" from
the edge of the first column to get nice,
evenly sized sheets).

Use the filler paper as a template to mark
where to hole punch.

Separate the lined paper into three (roughly)
equal stacks, split them up with the pocket
dividers, and add a project and word count
sheet at the beginning of each section.


And there you have it! There are so many ways to make it your own...print writing prompt cards or inspirational images to stick in the divider pockets (Pinterest is a great place to find both), add character profile sheets, setting maps, calendar pages to help schedule writing time...whatever helps get you excited and motivated to write.


Have you made your own writing planner? I'd love to see photos of your creation! Leave one in the comments below or tweet me @papergram.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Word Crimes

I suggest TV stations across the country start airing this as a PSA. The More You Know...





Thank you, Mr. Yankovic. Thank you. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tiny Potato Believes in You

I haven't posted in FOREVER. Mostly because I've been desperately trying to finish editing my book so my writers' group can read it and tell me whether or not it's any good.

Sometimes, doing what you love is hard.

Sometimes, you just need someone to believe in you.

I believe in you.

And so does tiny potato.


(Image stolen from my friend Becca's Instagram. For more awesomeness follow her here. And here.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

National Grammar Day, Or: Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over?

It's National Grammar Day! The one day you're allowed to be the grammar police without fear of backlash. We've all been deputized, right? For today's Grammar Day PSA, I'd like to share some of my biggest grammar and spelling pet peeves and faux pas. I promise, I speak in love. We'll start with the grammatical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard:

1. Your/You're
Do I really need to say more? Winner of the "Most likely to annoy you on Facebook" award.

2. Alot
This one is for my husband. He's a very laid back guy, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard him say, "A LOT IS TWO WORDS!" One of the many reasons I love him. (Side note: He read this over my shoulder, saw the word "alot" and was this close to yelling at me when he read the rest of the paragraph and started laughing.)

3. Thru
Should only be used when accompanied by a side of fries. The fact that the dictionary actually allows this as an "informal spelling of through" makes me want to cry. NO. Just NO.

4. Lack of Punctuation
If reading your words aloud causes you to pass out due to lack of oxygen, you might want to consider some periods. Or at least a comma or two.

5. Autocorrect's Obsession with Contractions
I love my iPhone, but can someone please explain to me why autocorrect always insists on changing "were" to "we're" and "well" to "we'll"?

Of course, it wouldn't be fair of me to pick on everyone else without admitting to my own shortcomings. So here are some confessions of my own:

1. It's/Its
Yes, I passed the second grade. My only excuse for this one is that my pinky finger has a mind of its own. One of my very first assignments for the Institute of Children's Literature came back from my instructor with a whole lot of red-inked edits because I had misspelled every single its. How's that for embarrassing?

2. Lead/Led
Halfway through editing my last novel, it was brought to my attention that I have some sort of heavy metals obsession. I ended up having to do a search of my entire manuscript for the word "lead" so I could change them all to the proper word. Apparently, if I'm going to misspell something I go all in. At least I'm consistent, right?

3. Alright
Did you know this word isn't technically even a word? Because I didn't, until about nine months ago. Turns out it should be written as two words: all right. Except maybe when quoting Matthew McConaughey.

4. Necessary 
This word is my nemesis. Does the c or the s come first? Should there be one? Two? Forget it, I'll just right click and let spell check fix it!

5. Lay/Laid/Lie
If you automatically know which one to use without having to look it up, you're my hero.

On today of all days, I would be remiss if I didn't give a shoutout and a giant THANK YOU to my amazing friend Laurie, who is the most grammatically correct person I know. My book would be a hot mess if it wasn't for her eagle-eye error detection and correction skills. I owe her BIG TIME.

So what did I miss? What are the errors that annoy you most? Any confessions of your own? Share in the comments!

Now to cross my fingers and hope this post is error free...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Decade and Counting



We met on a late spring evening doing yard work outside an old stone victorian house on the upper west side during a youth group service project. I was quietly raking leaves by myself, having been assigned to a different job than my best friend (who was one of only three people I actually knew there), when A BOY came over and started talking to me. Despite my notorious shyness around members of the opposite sex, I was amazed at how quickly we fell into comfortable conversation. We talked for the rest of the evening. When he asked for my number at the end of the night I gave it to him, at which point my best friend nearly died from shock.

That weekend he asked me if I would go out with him. I said yes. Eight months and thirteen days later I said, "I do." Today, ten years and two kids later, I still love hearing him say, "This is my wife." Seriously, it never gets old.

If I were to list all the ways my husband has made my life better over the last ten years, you'd never be able to spare the time to read it. Thanks to him I have a deeper appreciation for film, music, and hot sauce. And of course, those two crazy, wonderful children. He never fails to tell me I'm beautiful on the days when I'm feeling the opposite. He's an amazing cook, isn't afraid to watch chick-flicks, and wholeheartedly agrees that our house needs more bookshelves. He's my biggest supporter, always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and there with the perfect words when I'm feeling like I'm the worst writer in the history of novelists. He's my best friend. And on top of all that, he loves me every single day, even when I've got my cranky pants on.

Pretty sure I'm the luckiest woman in the universe.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 5 Reasons You Should NaNoWriMo

Imagine a place where a band of people, connected by a common passion, unite with fortitude, determination, and just a smidge of insanity, to attempt a journey of near impossible odds. A journey whose success lies not in the final destination, but in every step taken along the way. A journey which could alter the very course of history.

We call this place...

NaNoWriMo
*aka National Novel Writing Month, aka November

The challenge? Write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. The prize? Besides major bragging rights and that oh-so-good feeling, you'll have a novel in your hands. Sound impossible? We Wrimos laugh in the face of impossible. Here's my top 5 reasons you should start perfecting your maniacal cackle and sign up.

1. There's no time like NOW.

Whether NaNoWriMo has been on your bucket list for years or you're brand new to the idea of writing a novel in a month, to you I say, "Why not?" Somedays have a sneaky tendency to turn into nevers, so why not just go for it? If you don't reach the 50,000 word goal, there's always next year. And you're a lot less likely to make future excuses if you've dipped your toes into the water this year.

2. It's Habit Forming.

They say it takes 21 days to create a habit. After 30 days of literary abandon, not only will you be hooked on NaNoWriMo, you'll be well on your way to an established daily writing routine.

3. There's No Knowing...

You never know what will come of the words you write. Bestselling books Water for Elephants and The Night Circus both started as NaNoNovels. Whether you end the month with 500 words or 52,378, you never know where those words might take you.

4. It's a Magical Place.

We have plot bunnies and word sprints and decadent amounts of candy and caffeine. Seriously, it's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and we all get to be Charlie. Being part of NaNoWriMo means being part of a global secret society. The cool inside-jokes kind, not the creepy sign-in-blood kind. Although, I've never been inside the Horror genre forum...

5. And in Conclusion...It's Just Plain Fun

From smack talk in cross-country (and sometimes cross-continent) word-count rivalries, to connecting with fellow writers at local write-ins, to receiving encouraging and hilarious pep talks in your inbox, NaNoWriMo is an absolute blast. Whether or not you're able to log 1,667 words a day, you're going to come away with an amazing experience, a few new friends, and a renewed passion for writing. And that, my friend, is reason enough.

So what are you waiting for?

nanowrimo.org <<click to sign up
paperpages <<click to view my NaNoWriMo profile and send me a buddy request!





Friday, September 27, 2013

The Small Things {September Edition}

Now that the month is nearly over, here's my September happies. :)

The Goodness of Baked Things

Summer + no air conditioning = no baking, so once the weather starts to cool to a tolerable temperature I happily return to my cookie sheets, bread pans, and muffin tins. In my opinion, coffee/tea/chai without some sort of baked good is just plain wrong and should only occur in the most desperate of circumstances. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through this time of year's crazy days of homeschooling, design work, ballet, and soccer is that golden moment in the afternoon when I can brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab a treat and pretend for ten minutes that I have absolutely nothing else to do. Thankfully the weather has been rainy and chilly and wonderfully fall-ish so I've been able to keep up a steady stream of baked delights to satisfy my mid-afternoon cravings. You can visit my board of deliciousness on Pinterest for some of my favorite recipes.

Watership Down

I'd never heard of this book until one day I was Googling "anthropomorphic animal novels" (say that three times fast) and it popped up on a must-read-classics list. I tried to borrow it from my local library, but it was checked out. Then, in a fantastic turn of events, I stumbled upon a copy in a little used bookstore we visited while on vacation back in August. Typically I'm a very fast reader and a good book lasts about as long as Captain Jack's rum, but I found this book to be a lovely one to just meander through, picking it up here and there to read a chapter or two as I found time. It was absolutely delightful and I can definitely see myself returning to the world of Hazel, Fiver, and their stalwart band of bunnies for many years to come.

Star Wars

Now that I'm done waxing poetic about bunny books, it's time to get my geek on. Or would that be nerd? (According to this article, I could be both, honestly). This month marked a very significant point in my children's lives--their introduction to Star Wars. My five-year-old son is already obsessed, thanks to his love of Angry Birds, which turned into a love for Angry Birds Star Wars, which turned into a love for anything and everything related to Star Wars--especially if it involves Chewbacca. This was his reaction when he finally got to bring home the coveted Angry Birds Star Wars bedding...

Of course my husband and I have strongly encouraged him and decided he was ready to experience the wonder of the real thing. So off to the library we went, where miracle of miracles we were able to snag Episodes I-VI (with III reserved for mommy and daddy only, much to the boy's disappointment. He has now added "...and help me grow faster so I can watch Star Wars three" to his bedtime prayers). I have now heard Darth Vader's theme song being enthusiastically hummed at least three times a day for the last two weeks.
The force is strong with this one.

Be sure to check back in next week...I'm very excited to be introducing some special posts for the month of October!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Nonsense}

Last week I discovered (thanks to Twitter) that Friday was Roald Dahl day. Which makes today the perfect day to share this quote I've had saved on my list of favorites. And if you're looking for more words of wisdom, head on over to my friend Chelsea's blog, Little Red Chair, for her post on Dahl, what his books meant to her as a child, and a collection of more great quotes from the children's book master.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Tis the Season

Even though it's not officially fall yet, with the start of a new school year, it certainly feels like it's begun. Which makes me very, very happy. Fall is my favorite season. There's a reason every book I've ever written has been birthed during the fall months. There's something about autumn that reinvigorates my creative spirit. The changing colors, the crisp air, the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin....even my favorite music seems to take on a richer sound. (I'm listening to the new The Civil Wars album as we speak. Best. Fall. Music. Ever.) Plus, I am not a hot weather person. Me + any temperature above 75 = cranky pants. I like my skinny jeans, my scarves, my hot drinks, and my comforter. So by this time each year, Summer and I have stopped speaking and I'm ready to move on--even if Summer isn't. So what's an autumn girl to do when it's mid-September and still eighty-five degrees outside? Don the jeans (heat be damned), stockpile the apple cider k-cups that were on sale, and put up the fall decorations, of course.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book + Dice = Learning Fun!

Let's be honest. Our kids don't always think "fun" and "school" can coexist. As a homeschool mom, my kids are quick to let me know when they're not having fun. While they may not be brave enough to complain to a teacher outside of our house ("Would you talk that way to your ballet teacher, young lady?") they certainly have no qualms about whining to Mom when they're less than excited about the day's assignments.

So today I thought I'd share a project we're currently doing as part of 3rd grade History/Geography that has actually earned my almost-eight-year-old's approval. I figure any teachers out there--home or public school--can always use some new ideas! All it takes is one of Sleeping Bear Press's State Alphabet Books and an alphabet die. (By the way, I love these books! They're such a great resource for learning about the 50 states. Each one contains fun facts, from A-Z, about the individual state. And it's not just a sentence or two. Every letter has a short rhyme accompanied by a solid paragraph or two detailing the letter's subject.)

Note: We're using the die from our travel sized Apples to Apples game, but you could use one from another game like Scattergories, purchase one like this one from Amazon, or even use an iPhone app. Another free option would be to draw letters from a bag, or deck of flashcards.

B is for Big Sky Country: A Montana Alphabet

My daughter's assignment is to compile a folder filled with reports, pictures, maps, etc. on our home state. I couldn't wait to show her my own Pennsylvania folder (thank you Mom, for saving it all these years) that I put together in the fourth grade, and which would eventually become the inspiration for my first ever publication. I want my daughter to have as much fun as I did with this assignment, so I decided to make it even more interesting by turning it into a game.

Each week, she gets to roll the die. Whatever letter it lands on, she looks in the book and finds out what that letter stands for. Then it's her job to find out more information about that particular subject and write a report. For example, this week she rolled "N". N stands for Native Peoples. To help her narrow down the subject for her report, I asked her what she would like to know more about regarding Native American culture. She decided she wanted to learn how Native Americans used to hunt buffalo. It's been so awesome to see how proud she is of all the notes she's collected so far! It's also been a great lesson on researching and learning more computer skills. And as an added bonus, we'll be making buffalo burgers for dinner next week. Home Ec, anyone?

Check out the list of books (there's one for each state + Washington D.C.) and the accompanying FREE teacher's guides on the Sleeping Bear Press website. I'll definitely be picking up more from the library as we move on to study individual regions and states throughout the school year.

What about you? Any fun tips, tricks, or projects that have been successful in your classroom? I'm always looking for more new ideas, so I'd love to hear from you!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Long, Dark Night of the Squirrel

Today your Saturday morning funny is brought to you by the amazing Becca Rose of @bookwormbeaut Twitter fame. And squirrels. Seriously, read ALL THE PAGES. This is why Twitter is my absolute favorite form of social media.


Friday, August 23, 2013

The Small Things {August Edition}

My end-of-summer happies...

Family Vacation

This August marked our 2nd annual trip to church family camp. We had a blast heading to the beautiful Flathead Valley for a relaxing week filled with sunshine, great teachings from a hilarious couple visiting from across the pond (the Irish accents were glorious), and plenty of sightseeing and shopping. We made stops at all our favorite places, like Red Caboose Frozen Yogurt + Coffee, and Whitefish Beach. We also discovered some new favorites in Sweet Peaks Ice Cream and the best used bookstore I've ever been to: The Bookshelf (seriously folks, I could spend all the time and buy all the books). We also got to hang out with some awesome people, including our friends Jeremiah and Rachel, who besides being a really cool couple, are also amazing photographers (you should click on their names right there and check out their stuff). We wrapped up the week with an evening at Fresh Life Church and a stay at the charming and wonderful Kalispell Grand Hotel. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend one of our last summer weeks.

The Mason Bar Company

In our house we unashamedly use mason jars as our drinking glasses, so when I found out about these mason jar tumblers, naturally I had to have one. I picked up this beauty at the Red Caboose while we were on vacation, but no matter where you happen to be, you can snag one from their etsy shop. Today I tried infusing my water with fruit for the first time, with a combo of strawberry and lemon slices, and I must say, the result was delightful. It's also great for iced coffee. Who am I kidding...it's great for everything.


School Supplies

School is back in session next week, and for us that means the Martin family schoolbooks have arrived. As a homeschool graduate myself, I can still remember the excitement of thumbing through the year's worth of textbooks as soon as the mailman delivered them. I'm glad my kids continue the tradition and are always eager to find out what they'll be learning. I give it about a month before the newness wears off and they're no longer quite so thrilled at the prospect of school, so I'll enjoy their excitement while it lasts. I'll also bask in the joys of cheap notebooks, index cards, and post-it notes. And don't forget the bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils...


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Small Things {July Edition}

Sometimes it's the little things. Here's the stuff I'm loving this month...

Little Red Chair

You may remember I mentioned my friend Chelsea and her blog, Little Red Chair, in the very first Picture Quote Monday post. Well, Chelsea recently re-vamped her blog and started a "Lessons From" series. Her first two greats: Julia Child, and Emily Dickinson. Have I mentioned I adore this girl? Check out all her beautiful (and delicious) posts, including the orange zest bundt cake recipe, which immediately went on my must-bake list. And while you're at it, like her Facebook page to see all the incredible skills this girl has when it comes to renovating and decorating.




Housewife Gadgetry

This is probably the peak of housewifely nerdiness, but I'm in love with my new in-sink dishrack. Gone are the days of having a dish towel covered in a precarious stack of dripping, non-dishwasher-safe dinner and drinkware taking up counter space. Think me lame if you will, but I'm the type of person who has a hard time relaxing if my house is messy, and dishes are at the top of my super-annoying-must-clean-up-now list. The fact that this allows me to dry the hand-wash only items without cluttering up my kitchen makes me ridiculously happy.




Quitting Stuff

A week ago, myself and about 2000 other people embarked on an adventure in the form of an online social experiment by none other than Jon Acuff, author of START. The Start Experiment is all about taking risks and pursuing individual goals in an encouraging and supportive group environment. I'll be posting more about the experiment and my goal later in the week, but I wanted to share one of the recent daily challenges. Jon asked us to make a "quit list" of 3-5 things we could each quit doing that would open up more time, energy, or hope for our dreams. My list? Quit worrying. Quit exhausting myself. Quit being insecure. Since taking steps toward implementing these three things, my happiness level has definitely gone up. Even my husband commented on how much less stressed I've been. Who knew quitting could be such a good thing?

What about you? In the midst of a busy summer, what helps you slow down and just enjoy life?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Typically I write my own little synopsis for my book reviews, but this time, the back-of-the-book blurb is just too good not to share:

Mo's summer is looking good.
But that's before the murder, 
the kidnapping, the car crash, 
and the hurricane.
Now she and her best friend 
are setting out to solve 
the mystery of their lives.

Good thing Mo's always been lucky.

Moses LoBeau is a rising sixth grader with a very interesting past and an even more interesting present. As a baby, she washed ashore in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, during a hurricane. Now she spends her time working at the cafe owned by her self-appointed adoptive parents, hanging out with her best friend Dave, and plotting against her sworn enemy, Anna Celeste--all while continuing her message-in-a-bottle search for her Upstream Mother. When the cafe's crankiest customer turns up dead and a city detective rolls into town, Mo's summer takes a turn for the exciting. Soon she and Dave are out to solve a mystery of epic proportions as the case suddenly puts everyone they love in danger.

A short and sweet summary of this book: Utterly delightful. I loved all of it...the colorful setting, the humorous dialogue, the intriguing murder-mystery...everything about it was just SO good. I positively gushed over it at my last writers group meeting--and I was only a few pages in. Eclectic and charming, devious and dastardly, the characters in this book are a cast like no other. This type of writing is exactly what I aspire to as an author. I giggled my way through the first chapter and continued to laugh out loud until the very last, heartwarming page. Cover to cover, Three Times Lucky is an incredibly fun read which has landed high on my list of favorite middle-grade novels.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Why Is The Ink Always Gone?

This is why I don't complain when magazines and publishers only accept email submissions.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Literary Confessions

I've heard quite a few people talking recently about how it's really easy to put your best self out there when it comes to social media. Posting only the stuff that reveals our awesomeness has become the internet version of showing your mom your clean room, when really everything is just shoved under the bed. So being a writer, avid reader, and now blogger, I decided I should come clean about a few things in my literary life. (After all, I wouldn't want you thinking I'm perfect or anything.) So here goes...

I cannot get through a Jane Austen novel.

I've tried. Both as a teenager and an adult. I even went so far as to buy the fancy, gold-edged, embossed cover, hardback, 4-in-1 Austen collection at Costco a few months ago. And now it just sits on my bookshelf mocking me, the little blue ribbon marking the point of my failure on page 30 of Sense and Sensibility. I would love to cross this off my bucket list, but for now it looks like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is as close as I'm gonna get.

I've read more Young Adult novels as an adult, than I ever did as a teenager.

When I was a teen, they all seemed whiny and angsty and cheesy and dramatic (the one exception being the ever wonderful Anne of Green Gables)--and I was soooo not into that. So, aside from a brief love affair with Cedar River Daydreams (the Christian equivalent of Sweet Valley High--don't ask) I went straight to adult fiction. Thankfully, I'm a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction, so when I'm thirty-something and still picking up books in the teen section of the library, I can call it "research" and not "denial." Let's just hope by then I actually look like an adult and stop being mistaken for a high-schooler by the librarians.

I don't always like the book better than the movie.

Case in point: see my review of  The Silver Linings Playbook. Although, I have been trying much more intentionally to judge books and their accompanying films on their own individual merit. Case in point: Blue Like Jazz. Both different. Both equally amazing. (As in top 5 of my book and movie lists). I do prefer to read the book first. Because I really must be able to compare everything that was or was not in the book while I'm watching the movie. At least until my husband tells me to stop talking and just watch.

I have never read the Harry Potter books.

I can see you seriously considering clicking unfriend--unfollow--unsubscribe, so I won't mention the other series that I've also not read. *cough*--vampires--*cough*

What about you? Any confessions to make? Unread books that make fellow readers gasp in horror? Films you loved based on books you were less amorous over? Novels you're slightly embarrassed to admit to reading? Go ahead and share. It's good for the soul.








Monday, April 22, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Pencils}

As a graphic designer and a writer, most of my creativity is captured on a screen using a keyboard and a mouse. But I find when I get stuck, the best antidote for writer's--or creator's--block is to step away from the electronics and go old school. That's when it's time to break out the pencil (or pen) and paper. There's just something magical about a blank page that you can see and feel, and a nice sharp pencil with a brand new eraser. (Quote by Joyce A. Myers. Handwritten text by me. Paper effects done in Phoster app).


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Calvin On Storytelling

The blog has been quiet this week because I've been hard at work on the final draft of my novel! The end is near! I'll be back next week with more posts, including my review of  The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart. But for now, enjoy a little Calvin and Hobbes...



Bonus Challenge: What do you think Calvin's explanation of "The Noodle Incident" was? Leave your story in the comments. Extra points if you can Twitter size your reply at 140 characters or less. :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Never Enough}

So true. (And the fact C.S. Lewis said it makes me love it even more). 
Hand drawn on my hubby's iPad using the Paper by FiftyThree app.